How to test new tools in a newsroom?

How to test new tools in a newsroom?

Five steps to save time and maximise learning from any tool you test


From personal experience of working with dozens of media companies, I noticed a pattern that emerges when a team is trying to adopt a new tool.

First, someone in the team gets excited to try the new thing and try to convince their colleagues to give it a shot. A certain portion of the team gets on board and uses the new tool daily – they find it useful and learn to use it quickly. Another portion of people, however, starts lagging behind, usually because they can’t see the value and, as a result, struggle to fit it into their already busy schedules.

Three or four weeks later, two things can happen: either the enthusiastic portion of the team convinces the rest to get on board, or things slip away, the project is quietly abandoned and the team moves on to the next project.

On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with this. Trying new things is a necessity in a constantly evolving world, and few of the new tools are truly useful. It makes sense to abandon those that don’t stick.

But what if you want to break that cycle – if you need your team to stick to the new tool or practice for a while longer to truly evaluate its usefulness?

It takes time to learn new habits, just as it takes time to see the results of the efforts you’ve put into something. Below are five steps that can help you save time and maximise learning whenever your team tests a new solution.


1) Know the why

The most crucial step to help you set up a good test of a new solution is getting the team’s commitment. Everyone needs to understand why they are doing this and how the new tool benefits their work. “Because my manager told me to” won’t lead to a habit that sticks.


2) Set up a specific desired outcome for your test

Have a clear objective and target known by the entire team. Typically, managers know what they would like to get out of the new tool but it helps to outline the specifics for the whole team. Do you want to find a better way to do task X, or save time on task Z, etc.?

Set a realistic target that you can measure at the end of the test, like the number of stories you want to produce with the new tool, the minutes you’d like to save per person per day, or the better ways you’d like to track your KPIs.


3) Assess your resources for the test

Outline a specific timeline and your team roles for the test. Decide internally if now is a good time to try something new. If so, can you dedicate 2 days or 2 weeks to give it a shot? Do you need the whole team to be involved or do you task a select number of people to dedicate their resources more fully to the test?


4) Half-way status check

As you start testing the new tool, do the status check half-way through: are you on track to meeting your target? Have you discovered something new about the tool that you haven’t expected? If it’s delivering the results you expected, should you get more people testing the tool? If the results are underwhelming, can you get help from the provider to change something with your test setup?


5) Understand the why of your final verdict

Regardless of whether you decide to buy or abandon the tool, your team needs to understand why. Typically, people have a general idea of why the tool works or doesn’t work for them. But when you outline these points with your whole team, it helps you get closer to what’s really missing in your current workflow. Without this crucial step, your team wouldn’t know why the test failed and the time you spent testing the new solution is wasted.

In conclusion, take a more deliberate approach when testing a new solution by understanding the why, setting targets, checking progress half-way through, and debriefing at the end of the test.

Going through this process will increase the chances of your team actually using the tool if you decide to purchase. And in case you decide not to buy the solution, that same process will give you important clues about the kind of tool you should test next.

P.S. Here’s an example of an onboarding plan we’ve used at EzyInsights to guide teams through their test. Get in touch if you’d also like to test our solution: info [at] ezyinsights [dot] com.

P.P.S. Already a customer but would like to hear how we can help your team get the most from EzyInsights? Get in touch with our Customer Success Manager anna [at] ezyinsights [dot] com.






Featured image by WOCinTech Chat, modified.